Cheesy, salty and rich, this vegan parmesan cheese substitute made with almond flour is perfect for sprinkling on pasta or caesar salad. Easy to make in 5 minutes, this grated vegan parm is dairy-free, gluten-free, oil-free and rich in plant-based umami flavor.
Ready in less than 5 minutes and with just 38 calories per tablespoon, this vegan parm substitute is inexpensive and super easy to make at home. This WFPB recipe would also work as a grated vegan substitute for pecorino cheese, romano cheese or other hard cheeses like parmigiano reggiano.
It was made for dusting over my recipes for spaghetti with hearty mushroom marinara, street corn tostadas or creamy gigli pasta with broccoli and vegan white sauce.
🧄 Ingredient notes
- Blanched almond flour - the secret to making this vegan parmesan so easy and fast is blanched almond flour. This is the same type of almond flour that you might use instead of wheat flour in a recipe. I use the Kirkland Blanched Almond Flour from Costco and keep it stored in the freezer until I need it. Do not use almond meal, which contains almond skins and is more coarse. It will produce a darker parm that is more coarse and not as fluffy.
- Nutritional yeast flakes - Also called "nooch", nutritional yeast flakes give this parmesan substitute its cheesy, umami flavor. The flakes will be ground down a little bit, so they are in powdered form and the same size as the almond flour. Bob's Red Mill and Trader Joe's brand are both delicious. Some prefer the taste of unfortified nutritional yeast, but I like fortified nooch also. If you've tried it in the past and didn't like it, try an unfortified version.
- Garlic powder - Garlic powder or granulated garlic both work here to create a savory flavor. If you have access to it, try Burlap and Barrel's purple stripe garlic powder - the intense fragrance of this single origin spice from Cao Bằng, Vietnam works well in this recipe.
- Sea salt - one of the most prominent flavors of traditional parmesan or pecorino cheese is its saltiness. So, be sure to make this vegan parmesan salty, since it is used as just a condiment. Use fine sea salt. Or, if you love Diamond Crystal kosher salt as much as I do, you'll need to double the called-for amount. Diamond Crystal kosher salt tastes about half as salty as sea salt.
📋 Substitutions and variations
Here are some suitable substitutions for the ingredients in this recipe:
- Blanched almond flour - instead of using blanched almond flour, you could try using another finely ground nut- or seed-based flour that can be consumed raw, such as hazelnut flour, pecan flour, cashew flour or coconut flour, although I have not tested these options. These bases will have different flavors. Almond flour does not have an overly nutty flavor, which works well in this recipe.
- Garlic powder - instead of garlic powder, you could use onion powder for a slightly different flavor profile.
- SOS-free - make this SOS-free by omitting the salt
Switch things up with these variation ideas!
- Herb Vegan Parm - add dried herbs, such as basil, oregano, rosemary or thyme when blending the mixture for an herby vegan parmesan cheese substitute.
Step-by-step instructions for how to make this vegan substitute for parmesan cheese using almond flour.
Add almond flour to a mini food processor with a blade (a regular size food processor or a blender will work also).
Add the nutritional yeast flakes, garlic powder and salt to the food processor. Put lid back on processor/blender.
Pulse mixture for 15-20 seconds, to combine the ingredients and grind the nutritional yeast flakes into smaller pieces.
When it is the texture of grated parmesan cheese, taste the mixture and mix in more salt, if necessary.
This is the texture and consistency that you're looking for.
Store finished vegan parmesan in an airtight container, such as a mason jar, in the refrigerator or freezer.
⭐️ Expert tips
- This almond-based dairy-free parmesan is so fine that it gets absorbed into sauces, similarly to how standard grated parmesan acts. I don't want to say it "melts", but it sorta acts that way. It will thicken, flavor and add richness to a creamy pasta sauce, for example.
- Mini food processor - the mini food processor is so convenient and easy to use for recipes like this. If you dont have one, use your blender (doesn't have to be high speed for this recipe) or a standard food processor. We're just using it to combine the ingredients and breakdown the nutritional yeast flakes into smaller pieces. You could potentially use a mortar and pestle to achieve the same effect. Or, purchase nutritional yeast that is already in powder form.
🥡 Make ahead and storage tips
This recipe can certainly be made ahead of time. Store in an airtight container, such as a glass mason jar. It keeps for 4 weeks in the refrigerator and for up to 3 months in the freezer.
🚦 Calorie density score
🟡 This recipe gets a yellow light on the calorie density chart. One of the ingredients (the almond flour) is higher than 600 calories per pound, so eating richer foods like this regularly may prevent you from losing body fat or may even cause you to gain weight. Learn more about calorie density from Jeff Novick, MS, RDN.
Get your own printable calorie density chart for your refrigerator and free ebook explaining calorie density in simple terms.
👨👩👦👦 Serving suggestions
What can I use this vegan parmesan on?
Use it on any dish you would traditionally add parmesan, pecorino or hard grated cheese to, such as:
- spaghetti with marinara sauce
- eggplant parmesan
- vegan meatball sub
- caesar salad
- alfredo pasta
- cacio e pepe pasta
- sprinkle on roasted or baked vegetables, such as broccoli, zucchini or carrots
Yes, if you use nutritional yeast that is in powder form, you can just mix the ingredients in a bowl with a spoon. Or, you can grind up the nutritional yeast flakes in a mortar and pestle before combining the powder with the other ingredients and stirring well to combine.
No, it is not. Parmesan is made from cow's milk, which is an animal product and therefore not vegan.
No, pecorino cheese is made from sheep's milk, which is an animal product and so it's not vegan.
It depends on the brand or recipe you use, but most vegan parmesans are made from a base of nuts or seeds, such as: almonds, cashews, hemp seeds, walnuts, pecans. This rich, fatty base is combined with salt, nutritional yeast (for the cheesy taste) and seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder or lemon juice (for tang and acid).
Vegan parmesan tastes salty, cheesy with savory, umami notes.
🗺 Cultural influences
Parmigiano Reggiano originates in Italy and is beloved for its complex flavor profile and versatility. Made from cow's milk, parmesan is not a vegan product.
Personally, I cannot digest parmesan very easily. In the past, when I've eaten it, I've gotten sick. Pecorino, made from sheep's milk, was easier for my body to digest.
This vegan alternative to grated hard Italian cheese works as a welcome stand-in and substitute!
This recipe is inspired by my mixed ethnic background and heritage, including Italian ancestry, and by the strong cultural influences of my friends from Italy. See About for more information on my cultural influences and how I attribute recipes.
💜 More recipes you'll love
If you love this 4-ingredient, 5-minute vegan parm recipe, check out these other plant-based sauce and condiment recipes!
Easy Vegan Parmesan Cheese Substitute with Almond Flour
- Food processor mini or regular size food processor will work or a blender (does not have to be high speed blender for this recipe)
- Add all ingredients to a mini food processor with a blade (a regular size food processor or a blender will work also). Put lid back on processor/blender.1 cup blanched almond flour, ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes, ½ teaspoon sea salt, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Pulse mixture for 15-20 seconds, to combine the ingredients and grind the nutritional yeast flakes into smaller pieces. When it is the texture of grated parmesan cheese, taste the mixture and mix in more salt, if necessary.